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Call to make 2011 the Year of Walter Scott

First there was Homecoming Scotland to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in 2009. Now a proposal has been put forward to designate 2011 as The Year of Sir Walter Scott.

First there was Homecoming Scotland to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in 2009.

Now a proposal has been put forward to designate 2011 as The Year of Sir Walter Scott.

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The author has been proclaimed the father of Scottish tourism - and 2011 will mark the 200th anniversary of him starting to build his Borders home, Abbotsford House.

Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale MSP Jeremy Purvis has written to First Minister Alex Salmond seeking support for his campaign.

He said: "Without Scott there would not be the tourism sector we have today.

"Before Scott tourism was the pastime for the landed super rich on grand tours.However, with Scott came unprecedented mass tourism, a genuine Scottish invention.

"Abbotsford became the first large home to open to tourists in Scotland in 1833.

"There were more US visitors to Abbotsford in the 1850s than there were last year and we need now to fully exploit the historical links for commercial tourism today."

Mr Purvis's plan was welcomed by Abbotsford House manager Jacquie Wright, who said: "What a great idea ... as one of Scotland's greatest sons surely 2011 would be a great tourism opportunity."

The Abbotsford Trust,which oversees the house, has embarked on a £10 million fundraising campaign to preserve the mansion, described by Historic Scotland as an "unrecognised treasure".

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